Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas With The Lunch Bunch

The three girls who I refer to as "The Lunch Bunch" are dear friends and for the past almost 12 years, we've been getting together monthly for lunch -- at Linderhof!      The December Lunch -- The Christmas Lunch -- is always special!

I take great pains with the table for this lunch it has to be perfect!

The table -- a vision in red.

Red is the theme.     Red for the centerpiece, the runner, the napkins, and the bows on the presents!

The runner was a birthday gift from friend Shirley Ann

A white tablecloth grounds the table while touches of red abound!

Plaid and Holly -- perfect Christmas dishes

My Christmas China -- Royal Doulton Tartan, a Lenox Holiday salad plate, the Hotel silver, and a red linen Williams Sonoma napkin.    Two gifts -- one wrapped in gold paper and tied with a red ribbon, and

A wee chocolate fruitcake tied with a red ribbon and a label which identifies it as a chocolate fruitcake

A companion gift of chocolate fruitcake also tied with a red ribbon.

Minutes before the company arrives

I always love it when the table is all set, the meal is done and I'm just awaiting the guests to arrive.

The menu for our December luncheon:

Christmas Salad

Chicken and Broccoli Cobbler
Hot Rolls

Panettone Trifle
Freshly Brewed Coffee

When I typed the menu at 11 p.m. the night before I listed Christmas salad -- had not a clue what I was going to do.   Pear, blue cheese and walnuts -- perfect for a Christmas salad!

The Christmas Salad:    Greens with a light oil and vinegar dressing, half a Harry and David pear, a sprinkle of blue cheese and candied walnuts.

I love how the trifle looks in the bowl.

Panettone trifle -- soaked in Marsala with boozy apricots and raisins, custard and whipped cream.

We exchanged presents (and they were very generous), ate, and visited sharing our plans for Christmas Day.

All too soon, it was 2 p.m. and everyone said their goodbyes and Merry Christmases.      

We each had a nice helping of trifle!

We certainly did a number on the trifle -- enough was left, however, for Husband Jim to have a big helping mid afternoon and for us to have trifle for dessert.     Trifle is one of those desserts that seem to gets better as it ages!

A fun time was had by all!

I love the table when a meal is done and everyone is gone.    You can read into it what a good time was had by all!


5 ounces panettone
2 3/4 oz. dried apricots, cut into 4ths
2 3/4 oz. raisins
7 oz. marsala


5 eggs
1 T. sugar
1 t. cornflour
5 oz. marsala
1 pint whipping cream
2 oz. toasted sliced almonds

Put the raisins and apricots in a small saucepan with 5 oz. of the marsala.    Bring up to simmering, then take off the heat and leave to soak for 40 minutes.   Meanwhile, cut the panettone into slices about 1 inch thick, then cut these down to about 1 1/2  inch pieces and place them in the trifle bowl.

After that strain the cooled soaked fruit over a jug and add enough marsalla to make the liquid up to 5 oz.   Then sprinkle the marsala evenly over the panettone, followed by the fruit.    Leave to one side so that the panettone can soak up all the juices, and tip the bowl from time to time to make sure there are no little pools of liquid in the bowl.

To make the custard, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a medium bowl.    Then place 12 1/4 oz. of the cream and the marsala in a saucepan and over a gentle heat, bring up to simmering pint, then, whisking the egg mixture all of the time with one hand, gradually pour the heat cream back into the bowl with the egg mixture.    Now quickly put the whole lot back to the saucepan, using a rubber spatula.    Whisk over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble and thicken (don't worry, it won't curdle -- if it does look at all grainy, it will become smooth again when whisked off the heat).

Let the custard get quite cold then pour it over the fruit and panettone.    Then whip the remaining cream to the floppy stage (being careful not to make it too stiff) and spoon it all over the custard.    Cover and chill till needed, sprinkling over the toasted almonds just before serving.

It's Thursday and I'm sharing my Lunch table with Susan at Between Naps On the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.


Bookie said...

I love all that red! And the food all looks wonderful...but I have never heard of chocolate fruitcake!
Last year my mom gave me recipe that is now hubby's favorite salad-unbelieveably easy: cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges, and pineapple. Continue to have a great week at your house.....

Bernideen said...


william said...

Oh, Martha, Martha, Martha!

Love your blog.

Merry Christmas to you and Jim,


On Crooked Creek said...

The sun porch was a festive sight with all the red & white and glorious sunlight! What a beautiful setting, delicious menu and wonderful hostess!!! Friends are the glue that holds us together in this life! Making time to share your lives was the best gift of all!

Marigene said...

Beautiful of your best, Martha! I love those tartan plates against the white with red in the background.
Merry Christmas to you and Jim.

podso said...

Your table is beautiful and so festive! The menu sounds good and I love the scene after the party. I too love getting together with girl friends this time of year.

Merry Christmas!

CJ Foss said...

Lucky Lunch Bunch! Ridiculously lovely Red table, with the lace runner draping elegantly over the side. Lovely use of plaid plates to add depth and strength to the flowers and delicate stemware. Thanks for sharing. ~CJ

Pondside said...

That trifle sounds wonderful - quite different from the usual trifle. The table was beautiful, the menu yummy and it must have been a grand afternoon.

Luncheons at the Junction said...

Beautiful! I see you have embraced the red of the season too. How lovely. I love your plaid dinner plates accenting the Lenox salad plate! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful table and wonderful food, Martha!

Merry Christmas!

Scribbler said...

Everything looks wonderful! I haven't made a trifle in a long time, but using a Pannetone is such a good idea. I may have to give this a try!

Love the table runner, too.

Tess said...

WOW...this is a beautiful table. Your runner is gorgeous and I love your china. Plaid with the holly and ivy makes my heart go pitter-patter! I am on the prowl for plaid plates.

Luncheon sounded delicious and I'm sure your friends had a wonderful time!

Merry Christmas to you and your husband!